-Re House

“-Re” House no.37 – How To Split An Apartment

“-Re” House together with “-Re” Adapt are two series part of a project in which I review, refine and redesign residential projects available on the Dutch housing market. “-Re” House touches projects that have been completed after the year 2000 and could have been done more efficiently to begin with, while “-Re” Adapt looks at how to better adapt older residential architecture that was designed in a different cultural and historical context. 

Year wise this is not a “-Re” House. Complexity in demolition wise, definitely not a “-Re” Adapt project but more of a demolition therapy session in the “-Re” House category.

Before all the madness started, the housing market was a sure bet. The more properties one could get the better. Rent, the tulip of the century!

The extreme high demand in the biggest cities of The Netherlands brought back to action the splitting of large apartments so that not one but two rents could be charged.

The apartment below is such an apartment. Too large, for the typical one to two person demand, but with a must use potential on a desperate market.

So then, how do you divide one apartment into two fully independent ones?

As boring as this might sound, you start with a thorough analysts of what can not be moved, what can be moved, what must be moved and a refresher of “there must be a way around this!” attitude for when all hell breaks loose.

  • Original layout:
    Completed: 1972
    Surface: 119m²
    Balcony: 10.44m² / Technical Balcony: 6.46m²
    External storage: 9m²

•  This is a generous apartment with a typical layout for the mass development done in the 70’s and 80’s. Funny enough, this is exactly the type of apartment layout used in the years of booming communist developments.  Now, before you get your knickers in a twist, remember that high density residential socialist architecture has been used as a reference for much of the western development of the time.
This does not mean that either one or the other is right or wrong. It just confirms one more time the practicality and functionalism of the architectural field. Something that the western architectural discourse seems to have been ignoring while embracing either a financial or a political discourse. But that is a rant for another time. 
•  None of the criticism that I could bring to this apartment is of grave importance. It is all a matter of taste and style. And seeing how the purpose of this design is to split the apartment in half, the criticism of the existing layout holds little relevance.

  • New layout:
    Surface apartment 1 (top): 54.61m² / Balcony: 6.33m² / Technical Balcony: 2.14m²
    Surface apartment 2 (botom): 55.77m² / Balcony: 4.11m² / Technical Balcony: 4.32m²

•  The first step in splitting the layout was to find a common denominator, and this was the bathroom as well as its obvious vertical pipe circulation. The location of the existing bathroom was actually extremely beneficial and allowed for an easy addition of a mirrored space.
Now, due to the limitation in vertical pipe circulations adding secondary toilets was a rather challenging (mainly budget wise, since almost anything can be solved with enough budget, crushed concrete and a skilled crew) and so the choice of one bathroom space per apartment.
•  The entire surface was divided between the two new apartments, with the exception of the entry hallway, as this is where the division of access takes place. Despite being a transition space, it does house one utility: the meterkast (the dust covered space housing the fuse box, various meters and most importantly, the router).
•  As this was not a design from scratch but a reuse of an existing space and its restrictions, some compromises have been made.
This is why the top apartment has a less than ideal living room kitchen combo compared to the one displayed in the apartment below.
However, as these were intended for active people with busy lives at the office, the designed solutions provide more than adequate conditions of life.

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